You are on page 1of 1

The domestic cat[1][5] (Latin: Felis catus) is a small, typically furry, carnivo

rous mammal. They are often called house cats when kept as indoor pets or simply
cats when there is no need to distinguish them from other felids and felines.[6
] Cats are often valued by humans for companionship and for their ability to hun
t vermin. There are more than 70 cat breeds; different associations proclaim dif
ferent numbers according to their standards.
Cats are similar in anatomy to the other felids, with a strong, flexible body, q
uick reflexes, sharp retractable claws, and teeth adapted to killing small prey.
Cat senses fit a crepuscular and predatory ecological niche. Cats can hear soun
ds too faint or too high in frequency for human ears, such as those made by mice
and other small animals. They can see in near darkness. Like most other mammals
, cats have poorer color vision and a better sense of smell than humans. Cats, d
espite being solitary hunters, are a social species and cat communication includ
es the use of a variety of vocalizations (mewing, purring, trilling, hissing, gr
owling, and grunting), as well as cat pheromones and types of cat-specific body
language.[7]
Cats have a high breeding rate.[8] Under controlled breeding, they can be bred a
nd shown as registered pedigree pets, a hobby known as cat fancy. Failure to con
trol the breeding of pet cats by neutering and the abandonment of former househo
ld pets has resulted in large numbers of feral cats worldwide, requiring populat
ion control.[9] In certain areas outside cats' native range, this has contribute
d, along with habitat destruction and other factors, to the extinction of many b
ird species. Cats have been known to extirpate a bird species within specific re
gions and may have contributed to the extinction of isolated island populations.
[10] Cats are thought to be primarily, though not solely, responsible for the ex
tinction of 33 species of birds, and the presence of feral and free ranging cats
makes some locations unsuitable for attempted species reintroduction in otherwi
se suitable locations.[11] Stephen J. O'Brien argues that feline immunodeficienc
y virus (FIV), a disease not so different from HIV was found in house cats. Inte
restingly, over eight free-ranging wild species of Felidae are infected with the
ir own species-specific FIV strain (based on FIV gene sequence monophyly) that i
n most cases seems to be attenuated by historic selection of genetically resista
nt survivors in today s wild places.[12]
Since cats were venerated in ancient Egypt, they were commonly believed to have
been domesticated there,[13] but there may have been instances of domestication
as early as the Neolithic from around 9,500 years ago (7,500 BC).[14] A genetic
study in 2007 concluded that domestic cats are descended from Near Eastern wildc
ats, having diverged around 8,000 BC in West Asia.[13][15] A 2016 study found th
at leopard cats were undergoing domestication independently in China around 5,50
0 BC, though this line of partially domesticated cats leaves no trace in the dom
esticated populations of today.[16][17]
As of a 2007 study, cats are the second most popular pet in the US by number of
pets owned, behind freshwater fish.[18] In a 2010 study they were ranked the thi
rd most popular pet in the UK, after fish and dogs, with around 8 million being
owned.[19]